Green business looks to the west as soaring energy bills boost renewables

An expanding Denbighshire green energy company is heading west as soaring energy prices boost interest in renewables.

Vale of Clwyd-based Hafod Renewables has taken on a new team to cover Gwynedd and Ceredigion and is looking at opportunities for opening a new branch in the area.

The building boom coupled with expected hikes of over £100 a year in energy prices is fuelling interest in a range of renewable options, especially solar and air-source systems.

Hafod Managing Director David Jones said: “We now have a team based in Gwynedd to help deal with the demand, especially with the boom in property sales and with many more people looking to work from home.

“With winter approaching and big price rises expected for gas, oil and conventional electric heating systems there has been a big increase in demand for renewable systems.

“These can easily be retro-fitted to older properties as well and can operate independently and with solar if you add battery back-up then it makes a lot of sense for people in the rural areas unable to access mains gas.”

Iwan Morris, from Dolgellau, and Matthew Williams, from Deiniolen, cover Gwynedd and North Ceredigion which gives Hafod an important presence in the region where property sales – and upgrades – are booming.

Iwan said: “It’s all hands on deck at the moment and it’s been busy for the last three or four months.

“We cover a large area, from Ceredigion up through Gwynedd and into Powys as well and although it’s been mainly homes so far I think we’ll see more commercial properties and farms as the systems can pay for themselves in five years.”

With gas and electricity prices at their highest level for 15 years David is expecting the boom in enquiries to lead to an increase in sales and he has also taken on a new surveyor/business development manager in addition to the Gwynedd team.

Certainly lockdown has seen the company founded by David and his late father, Richard, 11 years ago grow rapidly with turnover up £1 million to £2.8 million in the last 12 months.

Much of that growth has been in the installation of air-source systems which now makes up almost half the firm’s business.

Hafod, three times Wales’s Renewable Energy Installer of the Year, now employ 15 staff, up from nine a year ago and are based at larger premises at Tremeirchion, near St Asaph.

David Jones added: “Since the Feed In Tariff scheme was scrapped for solar panel installations the focus has really shifted to air-source which is also easily retro-fitted to old properties.

“That makes it ideal for older homes in rural areas which have often had to rely on oil or liquid gas systems which are becoming increasingly expensive.

“The Government have set a target of 600,000 new air-source systems a year by 2028 – the current figure is 50,000 for the UK – and as we have been installing them for ten years we are well placed to take advantage.”

Hafod have installed 200 new heating systems in the past 12 months, a period that includes two months when David had to furlough his staff, compared with 140 the previous year.

Seventy per cent have been air-source systems which work like refrigerators in reverse, use a heat exchanger to transform the outside temperature of the air to up to 25C indoors with water heated to 65C.

Solar has caught up again now and together they make up almost 80 per cent of the firm’s business and there has also been a growth in the installation of vehicle-charging points – Hafod have two at Tremeirchion.

David, a graduate in renewable energy systems who already drives a Tesla electric car, said: “We have seen an increase in vehicle charging point installations as motorists switch from diesel to electric cars and we will definitely be looking at changing to electric vans when that becomes practical.”

Hafod’s new headquarters near Tremeirchion is entirely powered by renewable energy, with solar panels and air-source systems, and has a zero-carbon footprint.

Domestic systems currently make up the bulk of Hafod’s work but their track record includes renewable energy systems for over 100 farms, a builders’ merchant, holiday cottages, a bakery, an ice-cream business and a heritage railway.

For more on Hafod Renewables go to https://www.hafodrenewables.co.uk/

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